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Fear becomes unhealthy and often unmanageable when we isolate ourselves. However, when we learn to share our struggles and minister to each other through our difficulties, our faith quickly outgrows our fear.

Introduction

Fear is Everywhere.  There seems to be so much to fear. Governments seem uncertain here and around the world. Our economy doesn’t feel stable and that gives us concern regarding our personal finances. Anxiety and fear are beginning to strain all of our relationships. It doesn’t take much thought to conclude that things are changing. These changes are not just happening in America, but everywhere. 

We are not Supposed to be Experiencing the World like the Unbelieving. We live by faith, not by sight. This may not make a lot of sense to some, but it means we live by what we believe about God and not according to how we experience the world. We have a God who cares for us. And, this is not the first time the world has been crazy.

  • Are you struggling with fear right now? Could you share why?
  • How could a believer experience a fear-filled world differently than non-believers?

Luke 1:26-30 (NLT) In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!

When God Interrupts…

How Else is God Supposed to be Involved in Our Lives? Isn’t every minute of your life filled with something, someone, or some amusement? Seriously, IS there a window anywhere in our life that has enough quietness within it to truly and deeply hear from God?

God’s Interruptions are not Punishments, they are Purpose. Mary’s life was interrupted by an angel. Clearly, her life was not interrupted as a punishment or as some kind of correction. Mary’s life was interrupted to give her a gift. In fact, it would be a gift for the whole world. Mary’s life was interrupted for God’s purposes, not because of her mistakes.

What if God’s interruptions are about purpose? What if He is intent upon bringing His Son into your world? What if God is interrupting BECAUSE He LIKES you?

  • How has God interrupted your life? Could it be that He interrupted because He liked You?

Luke 1:39-41 (NLT) A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 

We NEED People

A Friend Who Understands.  Mary hurried to visit Elizabeth. She needed to process what had happened. She needed support.  She needed to get this thing in place in her mind and heart. This was now a crisis pregnancy and Mary knew Elizabeth would understand.

Our soul’s enemy loves to isolate and attack. The enemy wants you to feel alone, like you are the only one struggling. He wants you to experience crushing sadness and misery. Wherever there is a void, darkness will seep in. That is how the enemy takes us out.

So… who can you talk about Jesus with? Who is your spiritual friend? We need to build friendships with others who are following Jesus.

James 5:16 (NLT) Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Confess to each other and pray for each other.  If you are going to survive in this world you need this spiritual support.  What if we shared our struggles? Like Mary did with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s Greeting was Pure Hope, Courage, and Joy. We need a new approach to our problems. We need to start with the end in mind. Elizabeth had been blessed and she knew that Mary was also going to enjoy a rich blessing, even though the circumstances were not ideal. The angel Gabriel had already declared the ending, the ending was known. The path, not so much. The path is what we need help with.

What if We Gave Each Other Courage? What if we helped each other remember what God had done before? What if we stood with each other in difficulty?  What if we gave each other our time? What if we helped each other pray? What if we helped each other worship?

  • How do we get isolated during struggles? Why do we get isolated?
  • Discuss James 5:16. What is difficult about that verse? What is the promise?

 

The Way God Sees You…

Is SOOO Much More than the Way You See Yourself.

Luke 1:28 (NLT) Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Jude 1:24 (NLT) Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.

Do you have any idea how many people can find NOTHING within them that is good, or valuable? Before you start rehearsing your failures, remember that which was corrupted by sin has been restored by Jesus’ sacrifice and life.  You are so much more than “a sinner saved by grace”. That’s your backstory. It’s not your future and it’s certainly not your destiny.

We are not here to keep reminding each other of all our failures. We celebrate all that we have been forgiven! We rejoice in all that has been redeemed.

God’s Vision Always Requires Growth. We have to learn to pray for each other. Learn to tell each other how God sees us. Call each other UP to God’s destiny in the world. This is important because God’s vision brings Jesus into the world.

Talk about the future as God sees it 

Who could you encourage today? Can you tell others what God thinks of them? It’s not that we don’t fail or that people don’t fail. It’s that the debt for failure and sin has been paid. You are not done. They are not finished. Because God is not finished.

  • How did God see Mary in Luke 1:28? How does God see you in Jude 1:24?
  • Do you believe that God shows you things so you can grow into or prepare for them? Why?